The Story of Crash Pad Founder: Denny Gross
Denny Gross has fond memories of going to local speedways with his family and dreaming of someday sitting behind the wheel of a racecar. The drivers were his childhood heroes. "I knew I wanted to drive racecars when I was 9 years old" he says proudly. His opportunity came when he was 22 years old. Although older than most drivers entering their first
event, Denny also has shown more longevity than most. Today, younger competitors dominate the sport of sprint car racing. Many strap on a helmet as a teen and then quickly move on to other pursuits. Others compete, do well, and then enjoy retirement. Denny has tried several times to retire. But his love of the sport refuses to let him watch from the sidelines. So, after a short hiatus, he inevitably returns. "I am definitely not a spectator," the driver muses with a smile.
An industrial engineer by trade, Denny is also a skilled fabricator, welder, painter and mechanic. Racing is something he truly loves. It's a large part of who he is and, as is true for most competitors, racing has brought its shares of ups and downs for the south-central PA driver. It consumes immeasurable amounts of his time and energy; he lost one sprint car to a garage fire and an X-ray once revealed evidence of six whiplash incidents. However, he has never been seriously injured. With 50-plus qualifying wins and four main-event feature wins, he's also had his moments in the spotlight. The good times, he says, always tip the scales.
In 2006, Denny stepped away from the track when his mother became ill. Soon after her passing, a routine physical examination resulted in early detection of a serious medical condition. Further investigation was conducted and a treatment course chosen. Treatment was complete by Jan 2008 -- and he knew exactly how to celebrate. Thoughts of racing had dominated his treatment and his recovery. It personifies his approach to life - Never Give Up, Never Give In. Rested and rejuvenated, Gross marked the occasion by once again strapping on his racing helmet. On August 9, 2008, Denny Gross once again defied conventional wisdom by winning the main-event feature at Lincoln Speedway. He was happy that he was able to win, once again, prior to his Dad’s passing in December 2008. Another feature win slipped away in 2012 when a part failure led to a major crash while leading close to the finish.
Denny races mainly in the 358 sprint car class at Lincoln Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway.
He helped create that class in 1989 as a founding member of the KARS Sprint Series. It was the first limited sprint car class in the country and it continues to grow in popularity. Denny also enjoyed racing in select events once sanctioned by the All-American Outlaw Series. He has been able to finish 8th in the series points in 2008 and 3rd in 2009. He is still competitive and enjoying life in the driver's seat – racing against men and women four decades his junior.
Taking retirement from his professional career as soon as eligible has allowed Denny more flexibility with his time. He continues to do auto body repair and paint work for customers – something he once did as a fulltime business. Denny and his friend Dave found a critical problem when it came to race car drivers: serious back or neck injuries due to accidents. They researched and analyzed a possible solution to this problem. They came up with Crash Pad, a clever and very effective seat insert which helps to reduce the risk of spinal injury for race car drivers.